LDS Family Home Evening Ideas
It's Monday Night...Who Has the Lesson?
It's okay, don't panic! Here is a collection of great family home evening ideas for you to try tonight! And maybe you'll get a few pointers to help you plan for the next month too.
If you're new to family home evening, here is a quick rundown.
Family Home Evening, or FHE, is a night designated to spend time with your family. Usually after dinner and before bathtime or bedtime, FHE is the chance for parents and kids to sit down together, talk, enjoy each other's company, teach a lesson, sing some songs and then have a delicious treat.
President Joseph F. Smith, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1915, encouraged the members of the Mormon church to have one night a week as a 'Home Evening'. Then in 1970, the president of the church at that time, Joseph Fielding Smith (I know, similar name!) designated Monday night as the official night for families to have their Family Home Evening.
In support of this effort, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not schedule any activities or worship services on Monday nights, in hopes that families will be busy in their own homes, supporting and teaching one another.
To this day, if you know a Mormon family, don't be surprised if the kids suddenly disappear from the neighborhood streets on Monday nights, if the parents don't attend PTA meetings or if the teens miss soccer practice. It's a good bet they are all at home talking with each other, and later, eating brownies or jello fruit salad! (Okay, just joking about the jello!)
The Diagram of a FHE Lesson
The General Guidelines of How to Have a Family Home Evening!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a suggested outline for how to hold a regular FHE. But any family can hold one, and each family can choose how to have it! Whatever works in your family, is the best way to do it.
In general, a Mormon family will have the same schedule each Monday night as they run their family home evening.
Some families have decided to choose a different day due to scheduling conflicts. Maybe they decided Sunday night works best, or Thursday night or what have you.
For our purposes, let's designate Monday night as our FHE night!
The outline goes like this: Opening Song, Opening Prayer, Lesson, Activity or Game, Closing Song and Closing Prayer. The most important part of the FHE, without argument, is the TREAT! Ask any Mormon child you meet, and they will tell you this is so.
Why Opening Prayer?
The Opening Prayer, or Invocation, is about asking Heavenly Father to bless your family. The purpose in having a family prayer is to bring everyone together and remind them that all of our blessings come from God. It's also a time to ask God for special favors in regard to your family. Maybe you have a relative battling breast cancer...this would be a great time to bring the family together in prayer to ask for God's divine help and strength.
When you start your family night with a prayer, it unifies everyone and helps them to know that you take family night seriously and would like for every one to participate.
A prayer might go like this:
Address God by the title you use. We use Dear Heavenly Father.
Thank Him for your blessings. You might list specific things like your home, your job, your parents, etc.
Ask Him for help with what you need. It might be help on a test your daughter studied for, or to find the house keys, or a special blessing on your grandma whose health is failing.
Close the prayer in the way you normally do. At our house we close by saying In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Why Opening Song?
The Opening song invites a spirit of goodwill among the family members. If you have small children and don't normally go to church, you might sing something fun like "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".
The LDS church has an entire book of Children's songs. I will include a link later so you can find it. The LDS website also plays the music, so if you have never heard the song before, you can hear how it goes!
If you don't want to sing church songs, you can sing other family favorites. Maybe Dad plays the guitar. He can play Red River Valley while everyone sings. Or, you can do what the Simpsons do...sing commercial jingles!
The song is meant to be fun and uplifting, and it can also enhance the lesson if you are able to find a song that goes along with what you want to teach. I will show you examples of such songs with some sample lessons later.
Song Books for the Family - Find some fun songs to learn and sing together
It's always great to add songs to your family repertoire. Along with lullabies, have some silly songs you can sing in the car on long trips or to comfort a child when she is sick. Don't forget, I'll be providing links to FREE children's songs from the LDS website too.
Find a collection that mixes ones you already know with some new ones. You'll build some confidence and learn too!
A collection of FREE mp3s! Run, don't walk to get these for your smartphone!
The Lesson, or the Meat of Family Home Evening
The Lesson is Your Chance to Teach an Important Principle to Your Kids
While the kids will agree to FHE because they can't wait for the treat, the parents often are excited to present a lesson on something that they have been concerned about.
If you click on the Family Home Evening Resource Book link, you will find an entire book's worth of lessons for your family. However, FHE is a great opportunity to teach your family ANYTHING you have been wanting to teach them.
For example, maybe you have a child struggling with a bully at school. A FHE lesson can be all about great ways to deal with bullies, how to talk to teachers about it, maybe ask God for help with it during the opening or closing prayer, and assure your child of your love and concern. You can use any resources you want to reinforce your lesson.
Another idea might be to have a lesson about helping take care of the household chores. A FHE lesson could present the new chore chart, the reward system, and how much you will appreciate the help.
The lesson is the parents' way to teach important truths to their family in a non-threatening way. The parents support each other, and the relaxed environment allows for more teachable moments.
Alternately, it isn't a bad idea to let the kids take turns teaching lessons as well. You might be surprised when little Amber alerts the family to the need to recycle their pop cans or teaches them about a science experiment she did at school. Maybe Josh wants to show off a new skateboarding trick or teach a younger sibling how to solve a math equation. Let the kids be involved in lessons too, and you will further unify your family.
Some Lesson Resources - If You Feel Like Buying a Book You Can
But scroll on down, because there are a TON of FREE FHE resources you can use!
A lesson for every Monday night of the year!
Amazon said these two books are usually purchased together...
Surf More FHE Sites - Find even more about FHE on the Internet
Don't take my word for it! There is a lot more on the internet about FHE. Have fun!
Here is a Funny Rendition of FHE - Okay, Not Every FHE Turns Out the Way You Want
Here is a funny video somebody made about how a lot of Family Home Evenings can sometimes end up! Just keep trying, because it is so worth it to strengthen your family.
It's only a minute...cute message!
Closing Song and Closing Prayer
The Book Ends of the FHE Lesson
Once your lesson is over, you close your FHE with a last song and a prayer. Having it organized in this way signals a kind of beginning and ending for your kids, designating the FHE as an official event. It's nice to punctuate your lesson with a song that matches the principle taught in the lesson, but it's not necessary.
Likewise, closing the FHE with a prayer is a good way to reinforce what was taught. For example, if the lesson was about how to talk to the teacher at school about a bully problem, then whoever says the closing prayer could ask God's help in this endeavor.
The Closing Song and Prayer mark the ending of the lesson, and then the kids will be excited to adjourn to the kitchen for the FHE treat!
Don't even think about neglecting this aspect of FHE
I am serious! If you want to have success with a weekly family night, then you have to make the treat a priority! You will be amazed at the level of cooperation you get during your FHE lesson if there is a tray of warm cookies waiting on the kitchen counter!
The treat is a tangible reminder of the love parents have for their kids. A treat tops off the lesson by being a sweet reminder that your family is the most important thing you have. Eating a treat together engenders feelings of goodwill toward each other, brings laughter and fun, and serves as a positive reinforcement for having a weekly family night.
Scroll down for some great TREAT recipes your family can enjoy. Even if you don't do desserts, you can choose something special to reward the kids for their cooperation. You might buy a 'starfruit' at the grocery and serve that instead of cookies if you are worried about too much sugar. Just something unexpected and out of the ordinary can be a great treat for FHE.
Treat Books - Make Something Really Fun to Get the Kids Excited About FHE
Do You Think a Weekly Family Night is Important? - And Do You Think it's Possible?
Is Weekly Family Night Important?
Two Lessons to Get You Started
Family Home Evening is All About Making Strong Families
For Lesson One, let's do something really basic. This lesson is on How to Make a Strong Family.
For the Opening Song, choose a family favorite. For a long time, our daughter with Autism loved Old MacDonald, and so that was the opening song. In the last module, I'll include links to the LDS Childrens' Songbook where you can find many songs on many topics.
The Lesson will go something like this:
Mom asks everyone to say one thing they love about their family. The kids might say they like the family dog, or the cul de sac where they live, or Dad's whiskers. Just something that they feel good about in their family.
After everyone has had a turn, then Mom talks about the ways their family helps each other. Maybe Dad takes the trash out every week, or the oldest daughter sings in the morning when she's getting ready for school. Mom can list things that make home a pleasant place to be.
Then Mom gets the building blocks out. She asks each child to start building a house out of blocks by adding a block as they say something they can do to help their family be stronger. Maybe the oldest son can put a block down and suggest that he will try harder to share his toys. Maybe big sister will let her little sister wear a favorite sweatshirt. Everyone gets a turn until a nice house is built.
Then the family sings a Closing Song and has closing prayer. And of course, you must have a treat.
Celebrating a Family Member
This lesson works great when someone in the family has made an achievement or is about to leave home for college or a new job or something.
Dad collects some photographs of the honored family member. He types up some memories of the family member to share. He might assign some of the kids to recall some favorite times spent with the family member.
Opening Song: The honored family member's favorite!
Opening Prayer: by invitation
The Lesson: Dad introduces the honored family member. Stories are told and pictures are shared about the family member.
Closing Song: As I Have Loved You
Treat: The honored family member's favorite! (Hopefully it's not green jello...)
Children's Songbook - Music and Vocals
These are all free renderings of the music and vocals to hundreds of sweet children's songs about many topics. Many are religious of course, but some are about the seasons, family, work and the earth.
- LDS Children's Songbook
You can play the music with or without vocals to learn how the songs go and then sing together as a family.
Organizing Family Home Evening
If You Give Everyone a Job, You'll Get Great Cooperation
Many families will switch off responsibilities. This is a great way to teach your children several good things. First, you teach them about taking turns. Next, they can learn how to conduct a meeting. After 18 or 19 years of conducting a basic Family Home Evening lesson, they will have grown pretty comfortable organizing an agenda in any meetings they attend. Lastly, they will learn some other things as well, such as directing music, interacting with small children and teaching.
These are all skills that can easily translate into other occupations and will follow your children throughout their lives. One of your children might end up choosing a teaching career, because they loved planning and presenting the lessons in your Family Home Evenings. Another child might choose music because of their frequent exposure to music in their childhood...thanks to all those Family Home Evenings! And of course, what family would be complete without the bossy child who likes to run things? Your future CEO could be cutting her eyeteeth by directing Family Home Evening.
As parents, you may assign jobs for each of your children related to FHE. Someone needs to direct the music. If you refer to the LDS music page on the LDS.org website, you will find instructions on how to direct music. Another person may be in charge of preparing and presenting the lesson. Still another may say the opening or closing prayer. Additionally, one of the parents could assign a child to tell everyone else what their jobs are. Kids love being in charge of something!
When FHE responsibilities are rotated, everyone feels like a valuable member of the family team. Good luck.
The Family That Prays Together - Stays Together!
Find inspirational art or ways to organize the jobs of FHE on Amazon. A poster, some wall words, or a chart can be a real motivator for having a regular FHE every week.
This is a neat way to keep track of the FHE jobs
I love the idea of having a beautiful quote somewhere where it will be continually impressed upon the family members
Why not adapt a chore chart for use to remind everyone of FHE jobs?